From the Director: _______________________________________________________
As one works on this show, the lack of ceramics in our exhibition schedule becomes obvious. Considerations such as individual style, social context and content, material qualities and formal elements seem so immediate and fresh in clay compared to the ponderous aesthetic machines of painting, sculpture, and photography. We came from the same "stuff" as these objects and it still shows in the immediacy of one's reactions. Clay was the first material for our craven images.
Our thanks to all the artists, and particularly Berry Matthews, for bringing this show together.
-Edward R. Brohel, Museum Director
A Brief Essay: ___________________________________________________________
I recently spent several months in Denmark, a small, well-organized, relatively homogenous society. The ceramic work is well-crafted, and by comparison with American ceramics, narrowly focused, both in color and form. These differences make sense in terms of culture. American culture has diverse roots and a pioneer interest in new things and new ideas. My interest in teapots is shared by many American ceramic artists. This probably stems from our early connection to England as a colony and the strong English tradition of teamaking and drinking. (In Denmark there is no such tradition, nor interest in the teapot.) Noticing these differences led me to think that while we each feel our ideas are unique, individual, we are, nonetheless, influenced by our culture. We Americans value our freedom, and this, too, is a part of our cultural outlook.
Ceramics is a field with a long cultural history that encompasses Chinese tomb figures (200 BC), Greek vases (1300 BC-300 BC), Pre-Colombian pottery and Italian Renaissance Majolica. Today ceramic artists are aware of many traditions to draw inspiration from, and encouraged to do so by postmodern theories. They are also involved in their own histories and their work reflects this as well. As Americans, with 2 exceptions, these ceramicists also reflect concerns of our collective culture. These may be expressed consciously, as in the work of Jim Lawton which emerges from research into his family's history and its' relationship to issues of class and race in South Carolina, or it may be less conscious, as in the work of E.S. Eberle or Aurore Chabot who use dreams to generate imagery or form. Using the unconscious as a source has been part of our culture from folk artists to the influence of Freud, Jung, and the surrealists on "high art. James Tanner's work reflects both his knowledge of Abstract Expressionism and folk art. Both Eva Kwong and Masako Miyata address the interaction between Eastern and Western culture in their work, in two very different ways while Jill Hinckley's work draws more directly on Japanese ceramics as a reference. Kukuli Velarde, an artist from Peru has chosen to use forms from Peruvian culture while working in the United States, seeing, perhaps more clearly from a distance, the impact of her own culture, as I did when I was in Denmark. Bob Winokur constructs buildings that speak as metaphor about our eroding sense of place and Paula Winokur's work celebrates our awe, as a culture, with the natural landscape. Barbara Diduk addresses our cultural romance with the machine. Jim Shrosbree circles back to investigate the larger question of how we see and reflect.
In curating the show we have brought together work in ceramics that reflects the dramatic contrasts in our larger culture.
-Berry Matthews, Curator
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The Plattsburgh State Art Museum is comprised of over 4,500 works of art, representing numerous regions of the world, from the ancient to the contemporary. Works are displayed within our three main galleries, an outdoor sculpture park and exhibition areas throughout the campus. These facilities produce over twenty-five exhibitions a year of both a national and regional nature. Expanding upon the pluralistic ideal of Andre Malreaux's concept of a "Museum Without Walls," the Plattsburgh State Art Museum has become an open visual art resource for the College and the Champlain Valley/Adirondack Region.